Flying - Page 28 Aviation Articles

Lessons Learned: What Pilots Wish They'd Known

Just for fun, I asked the pilots of Reddit what they wished they'd known as a student pilot. They came through, with answers that were insightful, useful and some of them, funny.

Here's a list of things that pilots wish they'd known during flight training, coupled with a lot of good advice for new student pilots. (To see the full list, check out the Reddit thread here.) According to the flying aces of Reddit, every student pilot should know:

  1. How to get fuel at a self-serve pump: For some pilots, a lesson in self-serve fuel may come long after a private pilot check ride. It can be embarrassing when you realize the FBO is closed and the only fuel option available is self-serve - and you don't really know how to do it. New students can prevent this embarrassment by getting hands-in instruction from someone who's been there before.
  2. What water-contaminated fuel looks like: This one's easy. Just fill up the GATS jar with fuel, then take it inside and add water, and then you'll know! But you'd be surprised at how many pilots have no idea what to look for when it comes to fuel contamination, or what to do when they find water or sediment in fuel during the preflight.
  3. What to do when you have a flat tire: A flat or low tire can be a huge bummer, especially when you're away from your home field. And for some pilots, the first flat tire experience leaves them wondering just what they should do next, and wishing they has asked about this situation before hand.
  4. How to start a hot engine: Starting a hot engine, especially a fuel-injected engine, can be tricky. Hot start procedures are best learned through a demonstration by a qualified instructor or fellow pilot instead of when you're stuck on the ground at an unfamiliar airport.
  5. That you probably won't fly as often as you'd like: With weather delays, maintenance delays and scheduling issues, your flight training might take longer than expected. Expect it.
  6. That you can talk to air traffic controllers like they're human: Yes, there are actual human bodies behind those robot-like voices. Take a tour of your local control tower to see for yourself. And, you don't always have to talk to controllers like they're robots. They speak regular old English, just like you.
  7. That actual IMC experience is invaluable: Get some.
  8. That VMC conditions can look and feel like IMC at night over water: See number seven.
  9. That making friends with an A&P is valuable: Having an A&P mechanic friend or mentor will mean you'll be able to watch them work on airplanes, ask them questions about systems, and learn the ins and outs of your airplane. You'll be a better pilot when you fully understand the airplane's systems.
  10. To make sure the FBO will be open: Almost every pilot has a story to tell about landing at an airport after hours, unable to get fuel or access a computer. It happens to the best of us. Check the hours before you plan a flight. (You can find FBO information at Globalair.com's Airport Resource Center.)
  11. To be prepared to change course, in more ways than one. Be prepared for anything, from unforecast weather, a diversion, a runway closure, and those pesky emergency situations you practiced so much. Your route to becoming a skilled pilot will rarely be a straight one!

GlobalAir.com Displays “Oshkosh Specials” To Flyers Heading To EAA AirVenture

June 18, 2014 – Globalair.com announced today it has launched its annual “Oshkosh Specials” page. Since 2010 Globalair.com has produced this seasonal webpage, giving flyers heading to EAA’s AirVenture the ability to review discounts and special deals offered from FBOs nationwide just for them.

Jeff Carrithers, President and CEO of Globalair.com explains, “FBOs across the nation know Oshkosh is right around the corner and they also know there are thousands of aircraft flying from all over the nation heading to the event. They offer great specials for pilots, from large fuel discounts to free parking to free camping access. Some FBOs make it a little fun by offering food of some type. I always enjoy the free doughnuts myself, but some FBOs even offer hamburgers and barbeques.”

This is the fourth year Globalair.com has presented this information online to both aviators heading to Oskhosh and FBOs offering discounts. It is also the only aviation website that offers several EAA AirVenture specials in one place, with dozens of deals and discounts posted from across the nation. It is a good idea to check back often throughout the month of July as it is being up dated frequently. For those flying to Oshkosh, this is a must, as it will give pilots and operators plenty of time to review the listings, contact the FBOs and plan a cross country flight to the show. The page will also be available for the trip back home.

You can access the page at: https://www.globalair.com/airport/specials.aspx

FBOs that have specials they would like to post may contact [email protected] with the appropriate information, including the airport identifier, the name of the FBO, a point of contact and a short description (less than 200 characters) of the discount/special.

178 Seconds to Live: A Personal Account of Spatial Disorientation


As a flight instructor, I've always considered myself to be a safe pilot. Bad weather? Not flying. Under the weather? We'll cancel.

So when I found myself in a real-life VFR-into-IFR scenario, I actually wondered how it could happen to me. I was able to get my bearings that night, but not all pilots are so lucky.

I'd always heard about this "VFR into IMC" phenomenon and how bad it was, but I was always under the impression that I wouldn't need to worry about it. After all, if a pilot gets a proper preflight weather briefing, why in earth would he or she fly into bad weather?

The day I flew VFR into IMC was a definitely a lesson in weather and personal minimums and hazardous attitudes, but for me, it was also a blunt reality check. I had comfortably flown hundreds of hours in the Cessna 172, I had a lot of night time, cross country time, multi-engine time, IFR time, and apparently just enough instructor time for me to get slightly over-confident.

I was about to take two private pilot students up for a night flight when I realized I wasn't night current. I decided to start up the Cessna 172 and do my three full-stop take offs and landings before the students arrived. I checked AWOS first, and noted that the temperature/dew point spread was close - within three degrees- but a look at the clouds and sky told me it was a beautiful night.

During the first turn in the pattern I noted that the clouds were, indeed, lowering, and that maybe I should pay closer attention to the temperature and dew point. But it was the second take off that provided the reality check I apparently needed.

I turned crosswind, staying at about 800 feet AGL instead of the usual 1000 feet. I could see the ground, the buildings and lights, but was skimming the bottom of the clouds, and at one point went into IMC. Although brief, it was enough to disorient me. In what I suppose was an attempt to stay below the clouds, I had inadvertently commenced a turning descent during the crosswind turn.

I didn't notice until maybe a minute or two later, when I began a turn downwind and heard the sound of increased engine RPM. It sounded as though I'd increased power, but a quick check of the throttle indicated I hadn't. I knew something wasn't right. The engine sounded louder, faster. Thankfully, my brain was quick enough to tell my body that I was in a descent, headed quickly toward a "controlled flight into terrain" scenario that I'd read about in accident reports.

I was able to land safely that night but not every pilot is as lucky as I was.

An FAA publication from 1993 describes a study in which 20 student pilots flew simulators into instrument weather and all of them "went into graveyard spirals or roller-coaster like oscillations." The time until loss of control after entering IMC varied between 20-240 seconds, with the average being 178 seconds.

This harrowing video made by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) shows a common scenario in which a pilot might only have 178 seconds to live after flying VFR into IMC. It's a somber reminder for all of us flying around out there:


Source: 178 Seconds to Live: Spatial Disorientation can be a Killer, by Verdon Kleimenhagen, Ron Keones and James Szajkovics of FAA, and Ken Patz of MN/DOT Office of Aeroanutics, FAA Aviation News, January/February 1993.

Combat Pilots and Famous Warbirds Featured at Warbirds in Review During EAA AirVenture 2014

Clarence E. "Bud" Anderson is a WWII Triple Ace who flew the P-51 Mustang Old Crow, while assigned to the 357th Fighter Group "Yoxford Boys," 8th Air Force, Leiston Field, United Kingdom. He4 will be speaking at EAA AirVenture about his Vietnam War experience. (Photo courtesty https://www.cebudanderson.com)

EAA AVIATION CENTER, OSHKOSH, Wisconsin — (June 2, 2014) — A rare opportunity to listen to combat pilots tell their stories and view wartime aircraft will be at this year’s Warbirds in Review at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2014.

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, the 62nd annual fly-in convention for the Experimental Aircraft Association, is July 28-Aug. 3 at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh.

On Tuesday, July 29, at 1 p.m. World War II triple-ace Bud Anderson, author of "To Fly & Fight: Memoirs of a Triple Ace" will talk about his little-known experience in the Vietnam War. This presentation also includes a showcase of the P-51 "Old Crow" with owners Jim Hagedorn and Jack Roush, plus a surprise guest.

Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Major Gen. Patrick Brady appears on Wednesday, July 30 at 10 a.m. Brady is the author of "Dead Men Flying." His talk will feature the Bell UH-1 Iroquois "Huey" helicopter owned by the Army Aviation Heritage Foundation.

Another interesting Warbird is highlighted by Jerry Yellin, a P-51 pilot who flew as part of the last mission of World War II. This presentation on Friday, Aug. 1 at 1 p.m. will feature the North American P-51 owned by Tony Buechler.

Christina Olds, author of "Fighter Pilot: The Memoirs of Legendary Ace Robin Olds," will be speaking at 1 p.m. on Monday, July 28, recalling her father’s experiences as a World War II ace and Vietnam F-4 pilot. Spectators can also view the Lockheed P-38 Lightning and Curtiss P-40 Warhawk owned by Ron Fagen of the Fagen Fighters WWII Museum. Ron and Eric Fagen will talk about the restoration, operation and flying characteristics of these beautiful aircraft.

This weeklong Warbirds in Review schedule also includes other presentations from Warbird veterans and the showcasing of various wartime crafted planes. The presentations will be at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. daily at EAA AirVenture’s Warbird Alley. Preceding the presentations, Warbirds Living History Group will host educational talks/demonstrations on flight gear associated with the upcoming aircraft. In addition, singers/entertainers Theresa Eaman and the "Letters Home" girls will entertain just prior to each presentation. Visit the EAA Warbirds of America website for schedule and details about each presentation.

About EAA AirVenture Oshkosh

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh is "The World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration" and EAA’s yearly membership convention. Additional EAA AirVenture information, including advance ticket and camping purchase, is available online at www.airventure.org. EAA members receive lowest prices on admission rates. For more information on EAA and its programs, call 1-800-JOIN-EAA (1-800-564-6322) or visit www.eaa.org. Immediate news is available at www.twitter.com/EAAupdate.

Aircraft Spins 101


Photo: H. Rabb/Wikimedia
As mentioned in my previous article on stalls, accidents that occur due to stall/spin scenarios are more fatal than others. According to an AOPA study, stall/spin accidents have a fatality rate of about 28 percent, higher than the overall average fatality rate of 20 percent.

A spin occurs when an airplane stalls in an uncoordinated or aggravated state. If a recovery is not initiated after an uncoordinated stall occurs, the wing that is more stalled than the other will drop and the nose will follow into a spiraling descent. The aircraft will descend rapidly in a corkscrew motion.

According to the Jeppesen Private Pilot Manual, a small airplane will descend about 500 feet for each turn in a spin, so there's not much altitude or time available for a recovery in many cases. Considering stalls and spins often occur at low altitudes to begin with, it's clear why the fatality rate is higher for these accidents.

Stages of a Spin
The FAA has outlined three stages for spins in light aircraft: incipient, fully developed and recovery.

  • Incipient: The incipient phase of a spin is the stall and spin entry, up to about 2 turns in the spin.
  • Fully Developed: When the airspeed and rotation stabilize, the spin is considered fully developed.
  • Recovery: Recovery occurs when the pilot applies rudder and aileron inputs to counter the spin and the aircraft regains lift and control function. Once the inputs are initiated to stop the spin, the aircraft can usually recover in less than one spin.

Types of Spin

  • Erect Spin: Erect spins are the most common type of spin, occurring when the aircraft rolls and yaws in the same direction and the aircraft is upright and in a slightly nose-down attitude.
  • Inverted Spin: An inverted spin occurs when the aircraft spins upside down and yaw and roll occurs in opposite directions.
  • Flat Spin: Getting its name from the flat-like pitch attitude, the flat spin occurs when the aircraft spins at a level pitch attitude around the vertical axis as a result of a yawing motion alone. Flat spins are the most difficult to recover from (and just as difficult to enter in some aircraft!)

 

Spin Recovery
Spin recovery should be initiated at the first sign of a spin. Recovery procedures are specific to the aircraft flown and are found in the pilot operating handbook of each aircraft. In light aircraft, the spin recovery procedures follow a typical pattern and can be remembered by the common acronym PARE.

P - Power: The throttle should be moved to the idle position to reduce thrust.
A - Ailerons: Ailerons should be neutralized.
R - Rudder : Full opposite rudder input should be applied until the rotation is stopped. If the aircraft is rotating to the left, right rudder should be applied. Once the spinning stops, the rudder should be neutralized.
E - Elevator: Quick forward pressure should be applied to break the stall and gain airflow over the wings. Once the aircraft gains lift, back pressure should be applied gradually so as not to stall again.

Training aircraft are stable by design. They're meant to recover from unusual attitudes without much external control input from the pilot. A Cessna 172, for example, is actually somewhat difficult to perform an intentional spin in. But this doesn't mean that pilots of training aircraft are immune to spins.

While intentional spins are not always demonstrated during training, stall and spin awareness should always be emphasized with flight students. Many pilots tend to become confident in stall recovery, but all pilots would be wise to remain familiar with spin entry characteristics and recovery procedures for their specific aircraft.

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